At 6 o'clock Thursday night, Zach Osborne will trot out of the dugout in a clean Tennessee baseball uniform and make his way to the shortstop position at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
He knows the way. He's being doing it every game for four seasons.
It'll be a bittersweet journey this time, Osborne's last weekend as a Volunteer.
UT (24-28, 8-19 SEC) plays host to Arkansas (36-17, 13-14) in a series that closes the Vols' first season under coach Dave Serrano.
"I remember talking to (former UT All-American) Chris Burke one time,'' Osborne said Wednesday. "He said that this game is unbelievable. It blesses you. It takes you places you never thought you'd go.''
Osborne feels blessed, but the one place the game didn't take him was to his collegiate field of dreams.
Four years have flown by and Osborne never got to experience the SEC tournament at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala.
He and four teammates who are playing their final series this weekend had to digest that disappointment recently as UT slumped out of contention.
"You go through adversity in a season,'' Osborne said, "and things didn't work out the way we wanted.
"We lost some guys (key pitchers) but we should have taken that and flipped it somehow into a positive.''
Of late, positives have been harder to find than an unassisted triple play. After a promising start, Tennessee has won only two of its past 15 games.
Through it all, Osborne has been a constant in the middle of the defense.
"The consistency he's brought to the field every day at shortstop,'' Serrano said, "that's made our jobs easier.
"If we didn't have Zach Osborne, we'd be in an even deeper hole right now.''
Osborne takes enormous pride in his defense. He credits all those backyard ground balls from his dad Troy back home in Louisville, Ky.
When Osborne was 12, his dad coached Valley Sports to the Little League World Series title. Osborne was the MVP.
"I played shortstop and believe it or not I pitched, too,'' he said. "Being able to share it with my father was even better.''
A year later, a summer tournament brought the Osbornes to Knoxville. Out of curiosity, the family drove by Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
"They where actually out there practicing,'' Osborne said. "I remember turning to my parents and telling them I wanted to come play at a place like this.''
So he did.
Osborne was signed by Todd Raleigh and was in the starting lineup on opening day 2009. He hit .281 as a freshman.
His hitting peaked last season at .330. This year he brings a .265 average into his final series.
A presumed 224th hit this weekend will move him into ninth place on the UT career chart.
Saturday, he'll play his 216th game — he will have started 215 of them — which will rank third on the all-time chart behind Michael Rivera (219) and Ed Lewis (217).
A hand injury last year cost
him four games. But the irony is that if Osborne ever got the chance to extend his season in Hoover, the record would be his.
His abiding regret is not being able to be around when the Serrano era reaches the promised land.
"This new coaching staff,'' Osborne said, "is unbelievable, a great bunch of guys.
"They're going to be here a very long time.''
They're going to need a new shortstop.
Notebook: Osborne, Chris Pierce, Davis Morgan, Wes Walker and Hunter Daniel will be recognized Saturday before their final home game. ... Zack Godley, UT's most effective starter who has been injured, is slated to return to the pitching rotation Saturday.